Felix!

Tonight was a nice wrap-up to our trip: I got to see Stanzi for the first time in ages, and I finally got to meet her fiance Trent. We all went to dinner at Chambar (yum…Belgian beer!) and caught up. They just finished a 200km canoe trip down some rivers up north, which made our little hikes seem pretty sad.

Most exciting of all for Nellie: seeing Alessandro Juliani (aka Lt. Gaeta of Battlestar Galactica) eating dinner at the restaurant.

Now we’ll just relax and get some rest before our flight back tomorrow. As much as I hate the idea of the trip being over, it’ll be nice to get home again.

[tags]chambar, vancouver, battlestar galactica[/tags]

BSS & HEPA

Just got home from the Yaletown Brewing Co. where we watched Spain beat Germany 1-0 in the Euro final. Two things I love about the YBC, even more than their sister Brewhouse in Whistler:

1. The music. Last night, when the DJ started after 9:00, they played some really good songs, including “7/4 Shoreline” by Broken Social Scene, “First Day of Spring” by The Gandharvas, “Common People” by Pulp and “Connection” by Elastica. Surprising stuff for a pub that hosted by no less than 3 stagettes in the time it took us to eat dinner.

2. The men’s washrooms have Dyson Airblades. It seems funny to refer to a washroom hand dryer as cool…but it’s cool.

And now we wait to see what else our last full day in Vancouver — and on vacation — brings. Still waiting to see if we’ll meet up with Stanzi this afternoon, but other than that I think we may just rest, pack, do our web check-in and find a quiet place to eat dinner.

[tags]yaletown brewing company, euro 2008, dyson airblade[/tags]

I can has watterfrunt plz? Kthxbai.

After a big breakfast downstairs at the hotel, Nellie and I went down to the marinaside and rented some bikes from Reckless. For $30 we got two bikes for 2 hours (though we only stayed out for about 75 minutes) and cruised around the waterfront. We went all the way down past English Bay (where I stayed during my first visit to the city) to the entrance of Stanley Park, all the way back around False Creek past BC Place and GM Place and Science World, then back to Yaletown to drop off the bikes.

There were tons of cyclists, roller bladers, walkers, strollers…everyone was out. It doesn’t hurt that it’s another beautiful day. David Miller should force every Toronto city councilor to come do this.

Just about to jump in the shower and head off to the pub to watch the Euro Cup final.

[tags]vancouver, yaletown, reckless bike stores, toronto waterfront, david miller[/tags]

From sky to sea

It really is amazing how you can change your scenery out here in just a few hours. This morning at 10:00 we took the gondola up Whistler Mountain for a look around. The best parts: seeing a bear (a small brown) below the gondola about halfway up; taking lots of pictures of a marmot as he sunned himself at the top of the mountain; the open-air chairlift up to the peak of the mountain and the views from up there. It didn’t take long, but the views were as good (if less intimate) as anything we saw around Yoho.

We came back down the chairlift & gondola and jumped in the car. In spite of all the construction on the highway down to Vancouver we made pretty good time, and after a bit of complication (stupid Olympics construction) we found the car rental drop-off and walked the bags down to the hotel. We’re staying at the Opus, which is undeniably pretentious and poncy, but it’s also very comfortable and in an awesome neighbourhood. I’ve never spent time in Yaletown before (in fact, I just realized today that I haven’t been to Vancouver since 2001!) but it’s a cool neighbourhood. We found another brew pub right around the corner…same place, basically, as the place we frequented in Whistler. It happens to be right next to the chocolate place that I wanted to check out. We did a little shopping, ate a little gelato, walked down by the marina, explored our surroundings, showered & lounged in our room a bit…sweet. Hard to believe that 6 hours ago we were at 7,000 feet taking pictures of giant rodents.

Opus actually charges $15/day for internet access (apparently they’re taking lessons from Rogers) so I won’t bother posting this until tomorrow. Let’s just assume that we had a great night at the afore-mentioned brew pub.

[tags]whistler, vancouver, open hotel, yaletown[/tags]

Beer + sun + patio = vacation

That picture has nothing to do with what we did today. That’s a picture of Takkakaw Falls, back in Yoho National Park. Today nothing we did was terribly picture-worthy; we just drank in the sun all day.

Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. We went for a quick nature walk this morning out to Lost Lake and back, and then we started drinking. Couple of beer here, then back to the room, then couple of beer there, then back to the room, then out for more beer. It was such a beautiful day…it made for a perfect vacation day.

[tags]takkakaw falls, whistler, whistler brewhouse[/tags]

Homogeneous and precious…like MTV!

View from our Whistler balcony

‘Twas a long and winding road, my friends. We started out from Kamloops this morning after a superginormous breakfast, happily waving goodbye to our ugly Four Points hotel room. We drove west through the desert-like sage and scrub, through Cache Creek (dubbed “the armpit of the world” by a recent acquaintance) and southwest on highway 99. It was a long, boring drive along the Fraser river canyon; both of us felt nauseous by the time we reached Lillooet.

We switched drivers, and as it turned out, I had all the fun. Highway 99 from Lillooet to Pemberton (38 km from Whistler) is crazy…drive up a mountain, drive down a mountain, repeat. Lots of tight turns and short straightaways and 15% grades and runaway lanes. My friend M2 was right…it was like a video game. Good times. Anyway, we arrived at Whistler early in the afternoon and checked in.

Our hotel is nice, and our room is niiiiiiiice. Lots of space, very new, very comfortable, and a pretty view over the village (see above). The village itself is, as our hike book says, “a wee bit homogeneous and precious” and overrun by skateboard-toting teenagers with Burton tattooed to their foreheads, but pleasant enough. We had a bit of a stroll around and stopped for a beer (or three) at the Brewhouse, also at the suggestion of M2, before coming back to the room to veg and plan for tomorrow. Looks like hiking isn’t in the cards; maybe a little mountain biking. We shall see.

[tags]whistler, pan pacific whistler village centre, whistler brewhouse[/tags]

Now that's more like it.

We just arrived at the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre. All we wanted after a long day of twisty, turn-y driving was a decent, functional room…but wow. This is a suite, and it is (sorry) sweet. Kitchen, two TVs, balcony overlooking the village, sofa, divan…I kind of didn’t expect this based on how little I paid. Hooray for off-season!

I’ll blog more about the drive later. Right now we’re gonna unpack, de-compress and maybe explore the village a little.

[tags]whistler, pan pacific[/tags]

Bye mountains…

Lake O'Hara

Hey kids. We’ve finally returned to the land of cell phone signals and internet connections.

O’Hara gave us a proper send-off; last night, after dinner, the sun finally broke through the clouds and painted the mountains for us one last time. We stayed out on the porch until nearly 10:00, just staring. It was hard to tear ourselves away.

This morning it was one last breakfast before taking the bus down the hill, and heading west into the BC interior. The drive was beautiful, but Yoho spoils a nature-lover, so we almost felt numb to the beauty we were driving through. We stopped to eat lunch — another delicious one prepared by the folks at the lodge before we left — at the rather disappointing Rogers Pass, then stopped again just outside of Revelstoke to drive up the mountain to a few lookouts, but then just booted it for Kamloops. The country changes a lot in those ~400 km…from mountains to hills to huge lakes to arid farmland just before Kamloops.

Our room…well, it’s a Four Points. Functional, but it’s not pretty or particularly scenic. Hard to adjust down after what we’ve enjoyed for the past four days. But it has a comfy bed and a big fridge and a decent restaurant downstairs and an internet connection, so it’ll do for tonight. Tomorrow we’ll drive to Whistler; how we’ll get there is still up in the air. Stay tuned.

I’ve published the blog posts that I wrote up in the past four days, so you can read all about the trip so far.

[tags]lake o’hara, revelstoke, kamloops[/tags]

“We found a whole…gopher colony.”

One thing I have learned about the Rockies: the weather will switch from sun to rain at a moment’s notice, and will often overlap. Take today: it rained on and off several times, but each time the beginning or the end of the rain would be accompanied by brought sunshine. In any case, we didn’t let it lull us into a false sense of security; we opted out of any hikes, just taking a couple of walks (where we saw a nice alpine meadow and some gophers…I think) and sticking close to the cabin. Anyway, Nellie’s knees wouldn’t have allowed for much activity even had it been sunny.

Soon we’ll eat dinner and pack and have a glass of wine on the front porch, and after that we’ll go. I’ll leave here disappointed that we didn’t do everything we wanted to do…trail conditions kept us from seeing Lake MacArthur or the Opabin Plateau, while weather and injuries kept us from plan B today. Coming up to Lake O’Hara wasn’t a bad experience; far from it. The cabin was nice, the view was spectacular, we got to re-do the hike to Oesa, we had good food and good wine, and most importantly, we got to spend two days together in what’s rightly called the jewel of the Rockies. Nothing about that is bad. It just could have been brilliant.

So: onward. By this time tomorrow we should be in Kamloops, the halfway point of our trip. I guess if you’re reading this, it’ll mean that we’ve already reached Kamloops and the bountiful internet connections therein.

[tags]lake o’hara, opabin plateau, lake macarthur, kamloops[/tags]